As my desktop computer flickered to life this morning, I sat at my desk feeling a complete lack of inspiration or direction to address any certain doctrine, topic or theme. Some days are like that; it is frequently our traditional and religious upbringing and training that spurs us, that drives us always to produce, to create something, to make full use of the moments and hours and to waste not even the idle seconds that form minutes and, in turn, days and weeks and years.
And this morning, I needed to say or to do . . . nothing.
Indeed, nowhere in God’s word is there a demand or requirement that we, the children of God should be driven, always busy praying, preparing, preaching, studying, delivering, In fact, God’s perfect word encourages us, “Come to Me . . . I will give you rest.” “There remains,” the Bible teaches, “a rest for the people of God.” God, Himself gave us an example when He rested after six days of creation miracles.
The greatest form of rest is not physical, but spiritual. Looking to Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith we find that all of the work of redemption, all the effort producing salvation has been accomplished and there remains nothing for us to do or to contribute in order to become recipients of so great a salvation.
The Cross of Jesus Christ, upon which the Son of God anguished and died comprised the full work and effort that would bring us, you and me to a place of divine rest wherein we might dwell in His eternal peace and present comfort and in the sure knowledge of His redemptive work.
This penchant that many of us experience for the exertion and exercise of the soul and even of the physical body in the form of works does not find its genesis in God, but in our misunderstanding and failure to embrace the Gift that has come to us through God’s holy Son. When Jesus uttered those three words, “It is finished,” He brought together all of history past, all of the present and all of history future.
As we understand, Jesus did not speak English and therefore did not literally declare, “It is finished,” but rather He used Greek words to convey the English, “It is finished.”
The word He used is “tetelestai” which means to bring to a close, to complete, to fulfill. But it is the Greek tense Jesus used that is so powerful and revelatory: He speaks on the cross in the Perfect tense, something that is extremely rare in the New Testament and which possesses no English equivalent. The Perfect tense combines the Present tense and the Aorist tense. This may be too much information for some to consider, but it is important and liberating for us to understand. The Aorist tense indicates that something has happened at a specific point in time; a moment. There was a moment, the moment in time that Jesus announced, “It is finished.” The Present tense is linear, meaning something that continues on into the future and has ongoing implications.
The combination of these two tenses in the perfect tense as used in John 19:30 is of overwhelming significance to the Christian. When Jesus says “It is finished” (or completed) what he is actually saying is “It is finished and will continue to be finished”.
When we recognize that, regarding the eternal salvation provided by Christ through the cross of His execution, such salvation reaches backwards in time to the beginning of our lives, it affects our immediate “now” and it moves forward in time, continuing to be finished. Once we have come to the recognition of Jesus’ actual words and intent, the lack of effort, works, deeds, demonstrations, keeping spiritual score fades into oblivion.
We can rightly state, “I was saved, I am saved and I will be saved,” not by past, immediate or future effort, but by simple faith, by trusting in the Word of our Savior.
When this morning I experienced no need to exert myself, to extend myself towards heaven in order to be found pleasing to God, I was closer to the heart and character of God than I might have been in straining forward, seeking somehow by my efforts to please God.
Trust more, try less. Believe, rest, fall into His loving arms. Find and know the place of “tetelestai” and be encouraged, “It is finished.” It is finished and It will be finished.